Victims of an accident can file a compensation lawsuit against the liable party for the damages incurred. The financial compensation paid to victims of an accident helps them cater to economic and non-economic damages. The defendant's insurance company pays the plaintiff.
For this to happen, you should file a compensation lawsuit against the negligent party. You must win the compensation case to receive full compensation. You want to hire a personal injury attorney for legal guidance and to ensure you win the case.
If you or your loved one suffered due to an accident caused by a negligent truck driver, you could seek compensation from the trucking company or the liable truck driver. Our attorneys at San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm are highly experienced in handling personal injury lawsuits. We will diligently represent you in court as you heal from the injuries suffered.
Our top-notch personal injury attorneys are proficient in establishing the defendant's negligence or fault and negotiating with insurance companies to ensure taht our client's best interests are upheld. Our services extend to residents of San Diego, California, and the surrounding areas. In this article, we explore the aspects that will help you win your truck accident case when you are hit by a truck.
What You Do After the Accident Can Affect Your Case
What you do after an accident can affect your case more than you could think is possible. The confusion that follows an accident can lead you to act in a manner that could make your pursuance for compensation more complicated. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of which actions could boost your case and which could deteriorate the probability of winning. Firstly, after a truck accident, ensure you call for emergency medical assistance. Undergo a check-up even if you do not feel injured to be sure. Your health should be of at most importance.
If you are in a condition to, you want to take photos of the accident scene with a smartphone. Images that are useful as evidence include those of the vehicles' positions after an accident, the damages the cars sustained, and the injuries you bore. This evidence ensures you can prove that the damages you suffered were caused by the accident's impact and also helps establish fault.
Also, collect contact information from the parties involved in the accident; this includes names, phone numbers, the insurance company covering them, and the number of plates of the truck or the other vehicles involved. Contact information makes it easier to reach the involved parties during the trial.
Moreover, it is crucial to ensure that the police receive your account of what happened. Please ensure that the police report includes your explanation of what occurred since, without your version of the story, the liable party may switch up details of what happened in their favor. The evidence gathered from the accident scene and the police report will be vital in establishing liability.
Refrain from confronting other parties after an accident, apologizing for what happened, or accepting any fault for causing the accident. Such situations could give the defendant information to use against you or in their defense during the compensation trial. Ensure you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you can to receive professional guidance on which steps to take.
Lastly, do not run away from the scene of the accident, regardless of whether you are liable or not. Fleeing after an accident can be charged as a hit and run case. First, identify yourself to the parties involved and the police before you leave. It will ensure you are not charged with hit and run as a misdemeanor or felony.
Dealing with The Insurance Company
Insurance companies, like all businesses, strive to maximize benefits and minimize losses. Consequently, you want to avoid discussing the details of the accident with them without a personal injury attorney's counsel. The insurance company may try to lure you with promises of fast payments that may seem attractive while it is a less settlement than what your damages are worth. Furthermore, the defendant's insurance provider may try to find fault in your end to evade paying the compensation. Additionally, do not agree to any settlements or answer any questions before consulting your lawyer.
However, it is still essential to inform your insurance provider once you are involved in a truck accident. Keep the conversation limited to the basics. Some of the information you should provide to the insurance company include being involved in an accident, the location where the accident occurred, and the time it happened. Such communication ensures that the insurance company is aware that the accident did occur.
Claims You Can File
For a successful case, you must know which lawsuits are better suited for your situation. Filing suitable compensation claims enhance the chances of your case results being successful. Consequently, it is vital to consult your lawyer and discuss your accident's details to know which claims better suit your case. Furthermore, you could be entitled to file more than one claim against the liable party. Compensatory lawsuits comprise those of economic and non-economic damages. Possible claims victims of a truck accident can file entail:
- Medical Bills - The expenses you incur to acquire medical care for the injuries you suffered can be included in the claim. You want to keep the receipts you are issued after treatment so you can obtain full financial compensation. If you require further treatment in the future, you can file an additional claim of future medical expenses. To win this claim, you should provide a doctor's report showing that your condition will require future medical care.
- Pain and Suffering - The victim of a truck accident can file a lawsuit for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering caused by the injuries. The amount of compensation you obtain under this claim will vary depending on the severity of the injuries. For example, broken bones carry more settlements than minor cuts. You must prove that the injuries you sustained are from the impact of the truck accident.
- Property Damages - Due to trucks' colossal size, the damages caused when a truck accident occurs are often fatal. If you suffer property damage due to an accident, you can file for compensation from the negligent party. This claim can apply if your car, motorcycle, or bicycle is damaged. Your attorney should prove the damages were genuinely from the accident.
- Loss of Income - When you suffer injuries from an accident, you can lose pay for the days you are admitted to the hospital. If you face such a situation, consult your attorney and file for a loss of income compensation claim.
- Loss of Ability to Work for Income - You can sue the liable party if the accident's injuries disable you to the extent that you cannot work for income. For instance, if you lose a limb or are disabled in any other way in the accident, you are entitled to a settlement under this claim. To win this claim, your inability to generate income should be a result of the truck accident.
- Wrongful Death - The claim of wrongful death applies if you lose someone close to you from an accident caused by someone else's negligence. People entitled to this claim include the decedent's grandparent, parent, spouse, child, or domestic partner. To win this case, you must prove that the liable party's reckless conduct caused the deceased's death. Under this claim, you can be compensated for the burial and funeral expenses, loss of a family breadwinner, loss of companionship, and the income the deceased could have earned had they lived.
- Loss of Consortium - Loss of consortium is a compensation recovery valid if you lose companionship due to an accident. Loss of consortium is applicable if the victim is fatally injured such that they cannot provide the affection, sexual intimacy, parental care, or love they provided before the accident. It can also apply if the victim dies due to the accident.
To judge whether you are entitled to the claim, the court establishes your relationship with the victim, the care the victim provided to you, and their life expectancy.
- Punitive Damages - You can win a punitive damages claim if the accident occurred due to the liable party’s malice. Malicious conduct is whereby the offender acted with intent to harm you or in total disregard for your safety. Punitive damages can apply if the truck accident was a hit and run, driving under the influence, or distracted driving. Punitive damages will apply if you prove that the defendant knew the possible harm their actions could cause.
To further enhance your chances of a successful case, if the defendant was DUI, you need to prove that they were highly intoxicated; the higher the alcohol content found in their blood, the stronger your punitive damage claim will be. Also, suppose the case was a hit and run one. In that case, you want to provide evidence that the defendant willingly fled the accident scene, failed to provide their contact information and reasonable assistance to the injured, or did not stop after the accident.
The victim of an accident cannot automatically be entitled to compensation from the liable party unless they prove that their fault resulted in injuries, suffering, or property damages. You should validate that the following transpired to win a compensation lawsuit:
1. The accused owed a duty of care
As per stipulates of the California Vehicle Code, all road users owe a duty of care to other persons using the road. The responsibility of care requires drivers to apply reasonable care while driving, look out for obstacles, pedestrians, and other motorists on the road, and drive at a reasonable speed. Therefore, if a truck driver breaches the duty of care, they can be held liable for causing an accident.
2. Failure to uphold the duty of care
If you suffer injuries due to an accident caused by the truck driver failing to honor the duty of care, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. A truck driver can fail to uphold the duty of care by engaging in reckless driving or distracted driving. In such a case where reckless driving or breaking of a traffic rule directly led to the accident, the truck driver who committed the offenses is held liable. Examples include DUI, speeding, failing to yield the right-of-way, texting while driving, or violating traffic rules.
Moreover, if a truck driver is under pressure from the employer to deliver services fast, they may engage in careless driving leading tom an accident. Also, overworked drivers will be unable to exercise reasonable care on the roads due to fatigue. That is, the inability to drive diligently due to fatigue and lack of sleep can lead to poor judgment while driving or breaching basic traffic rules.
California Vehicle Code limits the number of hours a driver can be on the road in a 24hours period to around 10 to 11 hours if the driver is driving consecutively, and 60/70 hours in 7 consecutive days. If the plaintiff can prove that a truck driver caused the accident due to fatigue from moving beyond the set limits, their trucking company can be required to compensate you for the damages their employee caused.
3. Breaching the duty of care caused the accident.
You should note that your compensation case cannot be successful if the defendant proves that they practiced reasonable care. If there was no breaching of the duty of care, and there is no evidence to prove the respondent is liable for the accident, they will not be required to pay you compensation.
4. You suffered injuries due to the accident.
The last essential element you need to prove is that the accident caused you to sustain injuries and property damage. The compensation cannot be granted if you did not suffer any damages, or if the damages you sustained were caused by other circumstances not related to the accident.
California's Negligence Law
All the elements above will prove the negligence of the defendant. The components help you confirm that the respondent failed to act in a manner that a reasonable person would in such a situation. The California Negligence law applies if the victim did not fault, causing the accident and if the offender violated a law or showed extreme recklessness, which caused the accident. The victim must prove that they suffered substantial injuries or property damage that was directly caused by the accident's impact.
Comparative Fault Law
Since California is a comparative law jurisdiction, a truck accident victim can still receive compensation even when they are partly at fault for its occurrence. The law allows a percentage of responsibility to be determined, after which a victim can recover part of the compensation. The comparative fault law is a mitigating factor for the defendant since it reduces the extent of liability, reducing the amount of payment they must pay the victim. The compensation is reduced using the percentage by which the victim is liable for the accident.
In cases where there are more than two liable parties, the comparative negligence law can still apply. The jury or judge assigns percentage fault to each party. Each individual will be required to pay compensation depending on their percentage contribution to the accident's occurrence.
For instance, Tim is driving his truck on the road with sharp bends. On the other hand, Jack is heading to the train station in his car, moving on the same route. He is driving in a hurry so as not to miss the train. Tim nears a bend on the road, receives a text message, and takes his phone to reply to it fast. Tim does not see the oncoming car; neither does he notice his truck veer of his lane, his truck, and the car collide. Jack suffers fatal injuries, and his car's front is severely damaged.
Jack files a lawsuit against Tim for the injuries. In court, the judge rules that the comparative fault rule will apply since Jack was partly responsible for over-speeding and Tim for distracted driving. Jack is assigned 30% fault while Tim receives a 70% fault. Consequently, if the settlement for Jack's damages amounts to $100 000, he can recover 70% of it and access a compensation of $70 000.
At the accident scene, you want to avoid admitting any fault after the occurrence of an accident. You could say something you deem unimportant while in court; it could be proof of liability. The defendant could later use such information against you in the comparative fault law. To ensure your truck accident compensation case is a success, avoid engaging the truck driver or the insurance company without consulting your injury attorney.
Furthermore, with a proficient personal injury attorney's litigation, the victim can prove that the defendant was 100% liable. If they succeed, the victim receives full compensation for the damages suffered.
Winning a Case against the Truck Company
In some instances, truck accidents can occur due to the negligence of the trucking company. In efforts to increase profits, they may break rules that endanger other road users. If your accident occurs due to such recklessness, you can recover the company's compensation by proving that any of the following happened.
- The truck company overloaded the truck.
- The truck driver was inadequately trained or did not hold a driving license.
- The company allowed or requested their drivers to work beyond the permitted limits of continuous driving without rest or sleep.
- The insurance company retained drivers who are under strong medication or ailments that could affect their driving.
- The truck was poorly maintained, consequently leading to its malfunctioning, which caused the accident.
Other Possible Liable Parties
Lastly, a truck manufacturing company can be held liable for an accident if a defective vehicle from their company causes an accident. For the manufacturer's lawsuit to be significant, you must prove that the truck had the defects when bought from the manufacturer.
Furthermore, if a truck defect occurs after receiving truck repair services from a mechanic, the mechanic can be held liable if the impairment causes a truck accident. The responsible party or their insurance company will be required to compensate the victims of the accident.
You can also seek compensation from the authority responsible for designing, constructing, and maintaining roads if the truck accident is caused by poor road conditions or low road maintenance. When filing a lawsuit against a governmental organization, ensure you file it early on as the statute of limitations for such a suit is six months. A claim filed against a non-governmental organization requires the victim to file it within two years from the accident's date unless the victim requires more time under exceptional circumstances.
Importance of a Personal Injury Attorney
An essential key to a successful truck accident case is accessing legal guidance from an attorney experienced in personal injury cases. The journey to acquiring compensation can be confusing and stressful, especially if you are yet to recover from the injuries you sustained from the accident. However, if you involve an attorney in your case, they will take care of every process for you while you recover.
An attorney helps you gather evidence that strengthens your compensation claim. They will analyze the police report, photographs from the accident scene, and question eyewitnesses to ensure they obtain all the accident details. The attorney will then employ all this information and their legal expertise to fight for your maximum possible settlement.
Furthermore, personal injury lawyers are better positioned to understand what the law stipulates regarding compensation lawsuits. With their experience and knowledge, personal injury attorneys can prove liability on the defendant's end, show that the accident caused the injuries and damages, and aggressively fight for full compensation for all the damages you suffer. Your attorney also knows the tactics and language used by insurance companies. Therefore, the company cannot take advantage of you or deceive you in any way; your attorney will aggressively fight for the maximum possible compensation for you and ensure it is not delayed.
Find a San Diego Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
The help of a proficient personal attorney is a vital component in winning your truck accident case. If you are looking for quality legal representation, contact San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm. Our attorneys have years of experience and knowledge that make them well-suited to handle personal injury cases. We always put utmost importance on preserving our client's best interests. We will take you through the lawsuit and ensure you obtain the maximum compensation possible. Our law firm is located in San Diego, California. For further consultations about your case, contact us at 619-478-4059.